Luxaviation Group is proud to be supporting rising British pianist George Harliono, aged 18, by leasing a Steinway & Sons Model B, one of the most highly regarded pianos in classical music, for his personal use.
George Harliono made his first hour-long solo recital at the age of nine and has since performed in numerous locations in the UK, US, Europe and Asia.
IS-BAH—or The International Standard for Business Aircraft Handlers (IS-BAH) — was developed by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). It is a set of global industry best practices for business aviation ground handlers that highlights and prioritises the use of safety management systems (SMS).
While conforming to this global standard is currently voluntary, submitting to a third-party auditing process is the perfect way to demonstrate to your customers and your regulators that your risks are monitored and under control.
We sat down to talk with Karen Hein-Jones, ExecuJet Cambridge FBO Manager and IS-BAH Accredited Auditor, to find out why you should care about IS-BAH and once you care – what you should do about it!
ExecuJet (EJ): Karen, thank you for sitting down with us today! Can you first tell us how important the IS-BAH standard is for FBOs?
Karen Hein-Jones (KHJ): IS-BAH provides a set of best practices and standards for FBOs and Business Aircraft Handling Agencies (BAHAs). Whist it is entirely voluntary; it provides a global standard for business aviation ground handling agents to meet SMS requirements. Having this standard in place sends a very clear message to your customers that you’re serious about safety. This is a critical differentiator for the discerning traveller in today’s competitive business aviation market.
EJ: Speaking of SMS, what’s the difference between a “safety management system” and regular standard operating procedures (SOPs) for an FBO?
KHJ: Many FBOs already have SOPs in place, so these can be used as the basis of the SMS. The FBO will need to adopt and maintain an SMS programme incorporated into the FBO’s operation to conform to the IS-BAH standard. The SMS focuses more specifically on the safety aspects of FBO management and operation. For some, this will mean some updates, whilst for others, this may be a complete overhaul of existing procedures to be in full compliance with the standard.
EJ: Ok, so maybe we’re interested in getting on board with this standard since it is important to our customers. Can you walk us through what happens during an IS-BAH audit? What types of things are you looking for? How long does it take?
KHJ: There are three levels of IS-BAH accreditation and you must pass Stage I before being eligible for Stage II, followed by Stage III. The length of the Stage I audit depends on the size of the operation, number of staff and the services offered. It can take between 5 and 10 working days total. Pre-audit preparation is important as a copy of the FBO’s policies and procedures are reviewed to ensure they conform to the standards in the IS-BAH manual. The onsite portion of the audit is typically only 2-4 days of the entire length, depending on the complexity and size of the facility. It involves a review of the manuals in place and cross checking these with the pre-audit documentation provided in advance, observation of the operation and finally, interviews with staff. We work with the team to ensure minimum disruption to regular business activities. We verify the SMS is documented and implemented, Safety Performance Indicators are clearly identified and monitored, and that the policies, processes and procedures in SOPs are all correctly documented and implemented.
EJ: Wow! That sounds like a lot to do, especially on your own. What should I look for in hiring an outside organization to do my IS-BAH audit?
KHJ: All auditors must meet professional standards set by IS-BAH—some are independent whereas others are from larger organisations. ExecuJet has a global network of 27 FBOs and loads of experience with day-to-day FBO operations in many different locations around the world. We completely understand how the procedures and SMS must be developed to perfectly suit the individual FBO whilst also understanding how to apply the details of the IS-BAH standard. Our Munich, Sydney, Melbourne, Brussels, New Delhi, Dubai International, and Dubai South FBOs all have Stage I accreditation and Berlin, Lanseria, and Zürich FBOs have Stage II accreditation.
EJ: Good to know! With that in mind, does an organization and/or their technicians need to hold special certifications to conduct an IS-BAH audit?
KHJ: Yes, there are qualification and experience standards that must be demonstrated for initial accreditation as an auditor. These include a working knowledge of business aviation handling management, a minimum of 5 years’ working experience in ground handling including FBO activities, expertise and training in SMS and in auditing ISO-based Quality Management Systems. Renewal of the accreditation is required every 24 months.
EJ: Gotcha! So, we need an organization with lots of experience AND experienced technicians for the audit to be in compliance with the standard. Last question—once an audit is complete, what type of follow-up, if any, should we expect?
KHJ: At the closing meeting, initial audit findings will be reviewed, and recommendations and a corrective action plan agreed, if applicable. The audit report is then submitted to the IBAC audit board for review and the actual IS-BAH approval is granted by IBAC directly. This only happens once the auditor has advised IBAC that all findings have been closed and all corrective actions are finalised.
Thank you, Karen for answering all of our questions today! We can’t wait to get you and your team at our FBO—we’re gonna pass that IS-BAH audit with flying colours!